The first, and most obvious, is the Colts' considerable lack of depth at running back. Trent Richardson and Dan Herron are joined only by undrafted rookie Zurlon Tipton from Central Michigan, currently the third running back. The Colts, like most teams in today's NFL, prefer to play a rotation of running backs. With Ahmad Bradshaw on injured reserve, there aren't a lot of options.
Arguing for more carries for Herron is one thing – he's been more productive – but to suggest that he alone handle all the carries, when he has no history of being an every-down running back, is a stretch.
But there's a much bigger reason behind the Colts' rationale to stick with Richardson. And it has little to do with running the football. Richardson is the best pass-blocking running back the Colts have, a distinction that greatly increases his worth to the coaching staff.
You might not value this quality in your favorite team's running back, but quarterbacks do not share your opinion.
While it's just one opinion, it makes a lot of sense. Protecting one of the top QBs in the league is key to the Colts success and playoff future, and if Richardson has the best ability to keep Luck upright, he's going to be on the field. That could mean on the field in key third down situations, which obviously would limit Herron's pass-catching numbers. Both Herron and Richardson had two receptions last week.
Tuesday, December 16, 2014, 9:50am
Washington Redskins head coach Jay Gruden will be back with the organization in the same capacity next season, according to Dianna Russini of NBC4 Washington.
Gruden currently is in the first year of a five-year contract with the franchise that he signed when he became the head coach in January.
“I was impressed with Chris,” said HC Jay Gruden. “I think Chris has earned the right to get more chances as a third down back.”
With the season lost, it could be time to give other players looks to prepare for 2015. Many beat writers in the offseason thought Thompson may beat out Roy Helu as a third down back to start the season but injuries prevented that. It looks like Thompson could see more work in role. Silas Redd was also impressive in the passing game last week.
Monday, December 15, 2014, 7:08pm
It's actually a pretty nice matchup for RGIII against an Eagles defense that is prone to getting torched through the air. Griffin would still come with great risk at this time of year, however.
Marrone did not commit to having Spiller, who has been on injured reserve with a designation to return, play in Sunday's game at the Oakland Raiders.
"I'd like to see more participation before we make that decision," he said.
Spiller returned to practice on Dec. 3 after missing six weeks with a broken collarbone. The Bills had until Dec. 24 to decide whether to place him on their 53-man roster. If Spiller plays, it would likely mean Bryce Brown loses playing time and the Bills ride with Spiller, Fred Jackson and Anthony Dixon.
The Indianapolis Colts had a bit of good news today, when it was reported that the team received a clean bill of health regarding wide receiver T.Y. Hilton‘s sore hamstring. The 3rd-year wideout apparently tweaked his hamstring in Sunday’s win over the Houston Texans. He received the results of his MRI today, which came back with positive results.
While it wasn’t visibly noticeable during the game, Hilton was fairly quiet after catching 3 passes in the 1st quarter. Perhaps, it was a direct result of his hamstring injury, as he finished with just 4 receptions for 50 receiving yards and 0 touchdowns, the story pointed out. He looks promising for a game in Dallas in Week 16, but we first have to see if he can practice this week. The team is hoping he can by Wednesday or Thursday.
Per the tweet, Murray is not ruled out for next week - at least not yet. Jones was quoted in a story as saying, "It's probably a tough expectation to think that he can [play], but we'll see." Jones made it seem like even if he responds well to surgery, it may be a long shot Murray suits up in a friendly matchup at home with the Colts. Joseph Randle is averaging 7.0 YPC on 34 carries thus far this season, and is the favorite to take over most of Murray's carries. Lance Dunbar is the better pass-catcher, so he'd likely take on most of Murray's work in the receiving game. If Murray misses the game, Randle would likely be ranked in the top 20-25 in standard formats, while Dunbar would have some PPR appeal.
From our Injury Expert Russell Manalastas:
4th metacarpal fractures can be difficult to return from due to the potential swelling from both the fracture and from the surgery to address the fracture. Location is also important as well, as often times metacarpal fractures are addressed non-operatively. My first guess is that they are going to pin the fracture to allow it to heal properly. The metacarpals are really important in the hand to help with gripping activities, so the concern here is his ability to grip the football.
I'm not sure it's realistic to assume Murray will be back from hand surgery this Sunday, but stranger things have happened. The severity of the fracture and what type of procedure they perform will ultimately determine his availability this week and moving forward. If he does play, he'll have heavy padding around the fracture to help reduce the load on the fracture, with the option to primarily use just his right hand for carrying the ball.
Panthers coach Ron Rivera indicated to reporters Monday that Carolina is still feeling the situation out after Newton sustained two fractures in his lower back in a car accident last week. Rivera said the decision will come down to a coaching decision on whether Newton puts himself at risk of a setback by taking the field against the Browns in Week 16.
"I don't want to put a guy out there that can't protect himself," Rivera said Monday, according to The Charlotte Observer. "By that it's being able to run out of the way, scramble out of the way, stay alive, keep the play alive by being able to get away. That's all part of it. That's all part of the decision that went into the first Tampa Bay game."
As the story points out, Rivera is referring to Week 1, when the Panthers kept Newton on the sidelines with a cracked rib. Derek Anderson started and won that game, then beat the Bucs a second time on Sunday. The win moved the 5-8-1 Panthers into first place in the NFC South with two games to play. Anderson would play again in Week 16 if Newton can't go.
Tennessee will be in Jacksonville to face the 2-11 Jaguars in the final Thursday night game of the year. The Titans have already beaten the Jaguars once, so another win this week would guarantee they finish ahead of Jacksonville and that they will pick no higher than second once the first round gets underway.
There’s a chance that they’ll be facing Chad Henne instead of Blake Bortles in that contest. Ryan O’Halloran of the Florida Times-Union reports that Jaguars coach Gus Bradley deemed Bortles questionable for that game because of a sprain in the middle of his right foot.
As the story says, Bortles played every snap in Sunday’s 20-12 loss to the Ravens and absorbed eight sacks on the way to defeat, but it wasn’t immediately apparent during the game that he suffered an injury. He’s been on the injury report in recent weeks, perhaps because of the 46 overall sacks the team’s allowed since he took over for Henne earlier this season, but not because of a foot issue.
Cornerback Joe Haden, who exited the 30-0 loss to the Bengals with a shoulder injury, apparently won’t be missing the last two chances to climb back into playoff contention.
Per a league source, Haden is day-to-day.
With trips to Carolina and Baltimore to end the season, the Browns need to weigh the risk of playing Haden against the potential rewards. The postseason hopes took a major blow on Sunday; it possibly makes sense not to take a chance with Haden’s shoulder, if further injury could impact his preparation for 2015.
Even after Sunday’s outcome, the Browns have a far better chance than anyone envisioned entering the season to qualify for the playoffs for the first time since 2002, the story went on to say. Haden will want to be part of the effort to finish the campaign on the right side of .500 — and to hope for the help that they’ll need in order to make it to January. If Haden plays Week 16, it likely brings down the value a little of the Panthers Kelvin Benjamin, the team's top receiving threat.
Asked about a report that Stanton would miss four weeks, Cardinals General Manager Steve Keim said it’s simply too soon to say how quickly Stanton will heal.
“I think it’s one of those things with that type of knee injury, everybody heals different,” Keim said on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM, via ESPN.com. “And I know that ESPN and some other outlets have put a timeline on it. It’s extremely difficult to do. You can say it’s going to be four weeks — I’ve heard people say 1.5 weeks. Everybody heals differently. Drew will be here around the clock rehabbing, and I know he’ll be ready to go as soon as possible.”
The Cardinals are already down starting quarterback Carson Palmer for the season, and Stanton’s absence means they’ll be playing with one of their two co-third stringers, Ryan Lindley or Logan Thomas. Obviously those aren't the kind of fantasy names you want to put in your lineup Week 16. It also means the value of WRs Larry Fitzgerald, Michael Floyd and John Brown will drop a bit more.
Foles had tests on his broken collarbone, but they did not show the level of healing necessary to put him back on the field, the story added. Sanchez hasn't produced good fantasy numbers his last two games now. The Week 16 match is a much better one on paper at Washington, but at this point, if you're still alive, Sanchez is tough to trust as your starting QB.
Cowboys running back DeMarco Murray has remained free of injury despite a heavy workload this season, but he injured his hand late in the proceedings and needed to have x-rays done after the game. Murray revealed no concern to reporters after doctors took a look.
“Good, good. I’ll be all right,” Murray said, via the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.